In the midst of a private estate that oozes wealth and greeted by a clubhouse that has a grand feeling of tradition, you can tell you’re somewhere classy when you arrive at this sought-after Midlands golf club. And welcoming you before your round is without doubt, the most inventive practice green I’ve come across as it loops and bends around beds of flowering shrubs. Due to the clubhouse closure during these Covid-19 restricted times, I can only imagine the fun that could be had on a lazy afternoon with putter and pint in hand.
The course itself is a very pretty, mature tree-lined parkland and whilst I’m not typically a lover of parkland courses, Little Aston is certainly one of the better that I’ve played. The Colt bunkers are creatively built and well positioned, many of which, with their clean smooth lines, pop up above the ground. Whilst unmistakably parkland, there are also patches of heather, most notably on some of the par threes such as the long 9th. And as you’d hope with any top inland course, you’re also presented with immaculately kept, slick, sloping greens.
The course itself is very pleasant, the holes having varying degrees of modest elevation change, but it’s generally an easy walk. The club must have a good tree management programme for the fairways are kept at a fair, bordering on generous width and trees are thinned out meaning balls are easily found and escape shots are often available.
I did feel that the course got off to a relatively slow start albeit with no obvious weak holes, but it wasn’t until the 6th that any of the holes particularly caught my eye, for the 6th is blessed with a nice ridge of heather that cuts diagonally across the fairway before opening up into some fairway bunkers. The back nine is definitely the stronger of the two nines and the 10th for me was probably the best designed hole on the course. Here you’re faced with a decision on the tee as to which side of the tree to angle your tee shot, then what follows is a fairway that chicanes its way up to the green. I also enjoyed the holes where water comes into play on 12 and 17, the former a pretty par five and the latter a peninsula green that plays left to right from the tee due to the skewed teeing ground. 14 is another good hole, a tempter of a doglegging short par four but with a tricky green and trees to block out the direct approach, so only the foolhardy would go for this one, whilst the par five at 15 is another excellent hole where the fairway is blocked with mounds and bunkers before a well constructed tiered green. Otherwise, most putting surfaces are graded but not severely contoured, so a good iron player should be aiming for a position below the hole if birdie opportunities are expected to present themselves.
Overall, Little Aston’s current Top 50 England ranking comes across a little generous, maybe reputation has a part to play here. But it’s a very enjoyable location to play your golf amongst the isolation of some beautifully wooded suburbs, but to be considered the best parkland course in the country, I’m probably left wanting a little more; personally I feel it lacks sufficient elevation change and stronger architectural features for it to achieve that status, but it’s still a grand day out and one that I’d recommend.
Date: June 19, 2020